Young Puerto Rican women and their mothers know little about the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, says a University of Texas School of Public Health study.
According to research, HPV vaccination uptake and completion of the three-dose series remain low among Puerto Rican females. In this study researchers conducted seven focus groups with young women aged 16 to 24 and their mothers to assess knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to cervical cancer, HPV, and HPV vaccination.
Few female participants said that HPV causes cervical cancer, multiple sexual partners, or lack of routine screening. Unvaccinated women had little knowledge about HPV or the vaccine. They said that cervical cancer is caused by genetic predisposition, use of birth control pills, lack of hygiene, poor diet, and lack of physical activity.
Most mothers had difficulty explaining what cervical cancer is and suggested several causes, including HPV, genetic predisposition, promiscuity, and early initiation of sexual activity. Some mothers of unvaccinated girls also said that cervical cancer is fatal “like HIV.” With one exception, all mothers said that regular Papanicolaou (Pap) tests could detect cervical cancer. Only one mother knew that HPV is sexually transmitted.
Article: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs About Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Among Puerto Rican Mothers and Daughters, 2010: A Qualitative Study, María E. Fernández, PhD, Preventing Chronic Disease, published 4 December 2014.